3 years ago by Tom Soladay

De Kleijn wins opening stage at Tour of Turkey

Dutchman returns from injury to lead overall and points classifications

Dutch sprinting sensation Arvid de Kleijn captured his first win in Rally Cycling colors on stage 1 of the Tour of Turkey on Sunday. The 27-year-old won in a photo finish ahead of Uno-X Pro Cycling’s Kristoffer Halvorsen. The victory sees de Kleijn take the lead in the overall and sprint classifications.

“I’m really happy,” said de Kleijn. “The team did a great job looking after me and I’m glad I was able to repay them with the victory.

The stage, however, was nearly not to be with snow causing its cancellation 24 hours prior but a quick move by race organizers sent the peloton to the stage 2 town of Konya for an abbreviated 72km drag race.

An early two-man breakaway forged clear to scoop up the intermediate prizes before being reeled in for the much-anticipated sprint to the line. Surrounded by teammates, de Kleijn was dropped off on the Uno-X leadout inside the final two kilometers before a desperate kick to the line in the final 50 meters.

“It was a long sprint, like 400 meters,” added de Kleijn. “It was really close with Halvorsen. I was not sure if I’d won and he was also not sure. I just went for it and had enough to take it in the end. I knew I had it when I saw all our guys smiling.”

De Kleijn, who was competing in only his second race since crashing out of February’s Clásica de Almeria, is pleased with his form. He credits his attitude in helping arrive in Turkey with a shot at victory.

It was hard to stay in the apartment and see the other guys training and having fun,” said de Kleijn. “But from day one I focused on getting better. I’m a positive person and tried to focus on the controllable. I came into this race with an open mind.”

Pre-stage favorites blanketed the finish line behind the podium finishers with Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step) finishing in fourth place, Scheldeprijs winner Jasper Phillipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) in fifth, and André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) in sixth.

Team director Patrick McCarty was full of pride and relief upon hearing de Kleijn’s name shouted over race radio.

We needed that,” said McCarty. “It’s been a tough season so far due to the pandemic. Everyone has been working really hard and it’s nice to finally have some reward. Everyone on the team feels good after this and we’re glad to have Arvid back healthy.

Stage 2 sends the peloton on a 145km lap around Konya with a few early climbs to contend with before another expected sprint showdown. As the team enjoys this special victory they know time stops for no one.

“Looking forward, this is a great way to start the tour with a very well-rounded team,” added McCarty. “For most of the sprint days, we will see the other sprint teams continue to try and work together. We’re happy to carry the race for the leader’s jersey tomorrow, but I don’t expect that we’ll have to do it all day.”

Expect more of this on stage 2 although de Kleijn will be wearing a different jersey!

Live streaming of each stage is available through GCN+. Coverage starts at 5 am CT and concludes at 7 am CT. Turkish broadcaster TRT SPOR will also be covering the race at no cost.

Stage 1 results
1 DE KLEIJN Arvid Rally Cycling 1:35:38
2 HALVORSEN Kristoffer Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
4 CAVENDISH Mark Deceuninck – Quick Step
5 PHILIPSEN Jasper Alpecin-Fenix
6 GREIPEL André Israel Start-Up Nation
7 LONARDI Giovanni Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè
8 PEÑALVER Manuel Burgos-BH
9 BELLETTI Manuel EOLO-Kometa
10 GROSU Eduard-Michael DELKO

GC after stage 1
1 DE KLEIJN Arvid Rally Cycling 1:35:28
2 HALVORSEN Kristoffer Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 0:04
3 BARBIER Pierre DELKO 0:06
4 DE BIE Sean Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 0:07
5 SLIK Ivar ABLOC CT 0:08
6 BUTS Vitaliy Salcano Sakarya BB Team 0:09
7 CAVENDISH Mark Deceuninck – Quick Step 0:10
8 PHILIPSEN Jasper Alpecin-Fenix
9 GREIPEL André Israel Start-Up Nation
10 LONARDI Giovanni Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè

Points classification after stage 1
1 DE KLEIJN Arvid Rally Cycling 15
2 HALVORSEN Kristoffer Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 14
4 CAVENDISH Mark Deceuninck – Quick Step 12
5 PHILIPSEN Jasper Alpecin-Fenix 11
6 GREIPEL André Israel Start-Up Nation 10
7 LONARDI Giovanni Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè 9
8 BELLETTI Manuel EOLO-Kometa 8
9 PEÑALVER Manuel Burgos-BH 7
10 GROSU Eduard-Michael DELKO 6